Monday, February 28, 2011


I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between two persons. God has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it -- if I but keep God's commandments.

-- John Henry Newman (quoted in An Angel a Day by Ann Spangler)


Friday, February 25, 2011


"We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living." (Romans 14:7-9 NRSV)

The question came from a fellow soldier after our combat unit had moved into a field in the hedgerow section of Normandy, France, during World War II. "How come you are a Christian?" he asked me. I answered him the best way I knew at the time. I said, "A person would have to be really dumb not to be a Christian, for you live better and you die better."

I don't remember if my answer satisfied him or not. But now, after having lived about 85 years, I can reaffirm that same simple answer. I am convinced that people of faith do live and die better, for they are able to face life's storms with greater peace than those who walk without faith that God is walking beside them. As we live and as we die, people of faith have assurance of God's presence with them.

-- Jack G. Ammon in the The Upper Room Daily Devotional -- E-mail Edition, April 25, 2007, (c) 2007 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce or redistribute without written permission from the publisher.


Thursday, February 24, 2011


In interpreting suffering in the light of the cross, then we must begin with what God chooses to reveal, not with what [we] want God to reveal. Today people feel little need to justify themselves before God, but rather demand that God justify Himself to us. Therefore, the most common question they will raise in the face of suffering is, "Why is God doing this to me?" and although there may be a trace of genuine search for God's will in suffering, more likely the question betrays an underlying attitude that means to say, "I don't deserve this; God should treat me better than this."

Ultimately, the appropriate question is not "Why is God doing this?" but "Where is God in this?" Where is God in my suffering? The "why" of suffering, motivated by the demand that God justify Himself to us, is a pointless question. Answers that say God is testing us, punishing us, teaching us, or warning us -- such answers rarely fit the particulars of our or another's situation. Since we do not know the mind of God, we cannot know when or whether these answers fit at all. Job found that his question "Why are You doing this to me?" got no answer other than a response that prefigured the cross. It is to the foot of the cross that [we must go.] All demands to God for answers and all human pride that feels it deserves answers must end up as excess baggage at the foot of the cross. Rather than "why," better to ask "where." "Where is God in suffering? My suffering?" God answers with the reply, "Right in the middle of it."

-- Richard C. Eyer in Pastoral Care Under the Cross


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.
-- Peter Marshall


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


"But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13 NRSV)

The great battle of our spiritual lives is "Will you believe?" It is not "Will you try harder?" or "Can you make yourself worthy?"

-- Jim Cymbala in Fresh Faith


Monday, February 21, 2011


Probably no one in American history is more revered than Abraham Lincoln, and probably no one in public life knew more about defeat. Early in life, he lost in love. His career was a struggle against odds, with many failures. He went through a series of almost unremitting political defeats before being elected president, and for that matter, he suffered constant public deriding during his presidency. His private life was equally torn. In a letter to his friend John Stuart, Lincoln said: "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not" (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 1, 229).

Yet clearly enough, Lincoln learned from his defeats. When he stood at the edge of his greatest victory, he spoke with the wisdom and compassion that can only be learned through defeat: "With malice toward none, with charity toward all…" Assassination prevented Mr. Lincoln's ever having the chance to implement his convictions, but he was settled in his mind as to the course he would follow. I don't believe that he would have possessed such compassionate insight if he hadn't himself suffered so many losses. He had a soul for those who had lost because he had learned the pain of defeat. If he had not learned from defeat, he would have struck out against the conquered with bitter revenge. His education in defeat made him great.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in If Experience Is Such a Good Teacher Why Do I Keep Repeating the Course?


Friday, February 18, 2011


Monastics (monks and nuns) have a practice they call statio that means, simply, stopping one thing before beginning another. Rather than rushing from one task to the next, pause for a moment and recognize the time between times. Before dialing the phone, pause and think about the conversation and the person on the other end… I find that if I take time to pray for the recipient before beginning to compose a letter or before making a phone call, it makes the task less of a chore and more of an opportunity in which to receive or express God's grace.

-- Philip Yancey in Reaching for the Invisible God


Thursday, February 17, 2011


"I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise is always on my lips. My whole being praises the LORD." (Psalm 34:1-2)

We should serve God even if there is darkness enveloping our life and even if we don't understand what's happening… even when the circumstances of our life don't make sense: Because He is worthy of praise, because He is God.

-- Max Lucado


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The world cannot always understand one's profession of faith, but it can understand service.
-- Ian Maclaren


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Some people, not content with Christ alone, are carried here and there from one hope to another; even if they concern themselves chiefly with Him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where people have once and for all truly known the abundance of Christ's blessings.

-- adapted from John Calvin in The Institutes of the Christian Religion


Monday, February 14, 2011


Open up that great book of imaginary beings and leaf through the listings. Somewhere after Centaur, Goblin, E.T., and Mermaid -- but before the Unicorn and the Whatsit -- there's a page devoted to an unlikely creature called the Standstill Christian. It's unlikely because it doesn't exist. There ain't no such thing.

Christians are either growing in the Lord, or going backward. That doesn’t leave much room in between. It’s like true love: it either grows or it begins to die. Love simply can't stand still, and neither can our walk with Christ.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada in Glorious Intruder


Friday, February 11, 2011


A moonless Texas night had settled on our neighborhood. It must have been a Saturday evening because I remember sitting on the living-room floor with my wife and kids while we folded the church bulletins for the Sunday service. Suddenly, ferocious barking erupted down the street and footsteps thudded up the walkway. Someone pounded on our door. I jumped up, ran to the door, and threw it open. There stood Michael, a friend of my older boys. He was sweaty and breathing hard. He looked like he'd just seen a ghost.
"Let me in!" he pleaded, gasping for breath.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"There's a huge dog. It's after me. It's going to kill me." Michael's body shook as he turned around to look for his assailant.

By now my whole family was at the door. The barking grew louder. We all stared, waiting for Michael's ferocious attacker. As I flipped on the porch light, a tiny dog bounded into view. His bark was bigger than his height! We all burst out laughing.

Now remember, it was pitch dark. Michael thought he was in grave danger because he couldn't see anything. The moment a little bit of light corrected his perception, he changed. He was relaxed and laughing with embarrassment.

At that moment I remember thinking how our perceptions always determine our actions. Michael thought he was in danger; he felt a desperate need to find a safe place. He knew he could take shelter at our house, so he dashed to our door.

We all have times like these. Most people run to God - almost instinctively. Even people who aren't too sure about God. Why? Somehow, we know deep down - or at least hope - that God will be our shelter…

God's Word, the Bible, will enable you to see your situation in a different way. It will flip on the porch light over your soul, so you can see what's really going on and what God would have you do about it. I'm telling you up front that God is the place to run. He is and has always been a shelter, a safe place where people can take refuge. God is real and ready to open His door to all who run to Him in times of need.

-- Chip Ingram in I Am With You Always: Experiencing God in Times of Need


Thursday, February 10, 2011


The refusal to choose is a form of choice;
disbelief is a form of belief.

-- Frank Barron


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


After the first year, the eaglet becomes independent. It has good eyesight, its talons are sharp, and it can fly and find its own food. Newly confident, the young eagle no longer has to depend on its parents but on its own ability.

Like the eagle, we must remain confident in our God-given abilities and strengths rather than on what other people think or say about us. Yet we cannot be as totally independent as the eagle and soar on our own. As we find our quiet confidence in the Lord, we find our strength. This gives us true assurance.

Assurance is not based on our own abilities but rather, on the inward peace we get as we daily depend on God's grace and strength.

Confidence based on our own abilities or achievements is false.

-- Sheryl Lynn Hill in Soar As the Eagle


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose." (Psalm 25:12)

You don't get to control any outcome, only every choice you make along the way.

-- Stephen C. Paul


Monday, February 7, 2011


I was saved at thirteen, made a real commitment at fifteen, and became a licensed minister at seventeen. I became known as the Minister of Defense for the University of Tennessee Volunteers, as an All-Pro defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, and as the NFL's all-time sack leader and a Super Bowl champion for the Green Bay Packers. And, I hope most of all, [I am known] as an ordained minister who fervently believes in God.

The Bible is more than just a book to me. The Bible is my life. It is the basis for everything I do. I like the way Tunch Ilkin put it. Tunch was a Pro Bowl lineman for the Pittsburg Steelers before finishing his career alongside me with the Packers. Tunch said, "The Steelers had a playbook with 150 plays. If we mastered them, we could win. God has a playbook too. It's called the Bible. Everything we need to know is in God's playbook."

The football analogy is a good one. The Bible is our playbook for life. Its game plan details how we can live a rich, rewarding life. It offers answers to questions about family and faith and career fulfillment, in times of trouble or triumph. This playbook reshapes our lives, if we let it.

-- Reggie White with Steve Hubbard in God's Playbook


Friday, February 4, 2011


Here are the key ingredients to making a difference…

Have a mission in life. You have to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Get involved in making life better for people. Adopt a needy child or become a foster parent. Be a coach or a tutor to inner-city kids or run for school board.

Seek out and surround yourself with great role models. Frankly, I don't like hanging around mediocrity. I don't want my mind affected by a "just good enough" attitude. When you're on a team with great people, everyone in the group motivates and inspires each other to work their hardest and be the best.

Work hard. It may mean taking extra classes, doing more reading, watching less TV. If you really want it -- whatever "it" is -- you'll get it done. If you don't get it done, then you don't really want it, you just wish you had it.

Be bold, be daring, be courageous. If you want to win big, you've got to take some calculated risks. If you care enough about serving Jesus Christ, then you don't worry so much about what other people might say about you or do to you.

Be persistent. Very few touchdowns are made with a single 99-yard pass. Most come at the end of a 10- or 15-down drive made up of five- and three-yard gains, even some lost yards. If you don't hang in there, you'll never get to cross the goal line and do the Lambeau leap! But if you're persistent, ain't nobody gonna stop you.

-- Reggie White in Men of Integrity magazine, September/October 2002, Vol. 5, No. 5


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Out of football comes this remarkably pointed illustration by Steve Owens, [former] coach of the New York Giants professional football team: "It's not what you do in the huddle that counts. It's what you do when you come out of it."

Like all such illustrations it is slightly exaggerated, for Owens knows that in the huddle is the place for decision as to what the team should do. But no games are won there. Too long there means a penalty. Games are won when the team comes out of the huddle and goes into action.

So with the Christian life. We need the "prayer huddle," for without it we would miss a sense of direction, of purpose, of decision. But Jesus said that the way we reveal our love for God found in quiet is through love for [humanity] in daily life. For Him the test of our faith is what we do about it in daily living.

-- Harold Freer & Francis Hall in Two or Three Together


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24 NIV)

Soon after moving to Cleveland, Ohio in 1985 I took my dad and my son to a Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers football game. My son rooted for the Browns and my dad rooted for the Packers. Having lived in Wisconsin for 34 years I had a loyalty to the Packers, but also had some allegiance to the home team. I sat between my dad and my son and found myself cheering for both teams.

I remember hearing the story of someone who had followed the Browns for many years. When asked how this fan dealt with all the frustrations of dropped passes, missed field goals, fumbles, and "three yards and a cloud of dust," the man had this reply. He said that he would video tape all of the games and would not watch them until he learned of the outcome. If the Browns lost the game, he erased the tape. But if they won, then he popped the videotape in and watched every play. When the Browns lost yardage, or fumbled, or did any of those things that would make most Browns' fans cringe, this fellow just laughed. He knew that no matter how bad things looked at the moment for the Browns, they had won the game.

What a perspective! As Christians we need to have that same attitude. Christ has already won the game. Christ has already made us winners through what He did for us on the cross given to us through our belief in Him. We are champions in the game of life. Now, let's act like it!

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Tuesday, February 1, 2011


God continually models perseverance through His unwavering faithfulness. It's part of His nature. In spite of our doubt and disobedience, God persists in loving us with amazing, unconditional love. He pursues us with a fervent love. Aren't you drawn to the heart of your faithful Father? Doesn't His devotion pull you in again and again? Aren't you glad He is determined to love you -- no matter how unlovable you are? How many times have you cried out in gratitude, thankful that He didn't give up on you? God's example of perseverance is the standard to which we must rise in all of our relationships.

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab